Catacombs of Paris
On the third day we slept in a bit and then headed to our local bakery to pick out some pastries. Secco is located at 54 Rue de Sévres and had pretty tarts and yummy pain au chocolat. We had such a hard time choosing what we wanted!
Ivy's breakfast espresso and berry tart...yummy!
After breakfast, we got dressed and headed to the Catacombs for a day of spook! We had visited the Catacombs on our first ever trip to Paris but P-man had never visited so we decided to have another go. Since we did not plan ahead, we ended up sitting in line for 3+ hours!!!! We highly recommend BOOKING AHEAD. On our first visit with our family, we booked ahead and had NO wait time which left us more time to enjoy other places in Paris. Waiting in line that long was a real bummer, but we think it was worth it. There is a small park that the line forms around and the line is great for people watching so all in all, it wasn't so bad.
Once we got into the Catacombs we were so glad we had waited in line. The tunnels below the city were originally made by the Romans quarrying stone for roads and buildings. In the 1700's The Cemetery of the Innocents in Les Halles became too full and was a source of disease for the surrounding neighborhood. In 1786, the city decided to transfer the bones from the cemetery to the abandoned tunnels. Nightly, the priests would cart bones from the city's cemeteries covered with a heavy black cloth and place them in these tunnels. The city continued to place bones in the Catacombs until 1814. When the bones were placed in the tunnels, they were piled up on either side of the tunnel, leaving a path in the center to walk. You can find designs made in the piles such as hearts made of skulls, crosses, and other interesting and certainly spooky patterns.
After the Catacombs, we were caught in a torrential downpour and decided to head back to the 6th Arrondissement to have some lunch and change our now soaking clothes. We had noticed a small wine and tapas bar near our house so we decided to check it out for lunch. Osaba specializes in Spanish cheeses, meats, and wines. The restaurant itself is very small with a few tables upstairs and a few outside on the street. Since the rain seemed to have stopped for a while, we took a chance and sat outside because when in Paris, live as the Parisians! Between the three of us we split a bottle of rosé and the large cheese and meat board with a never ending basket of sliced baguette. The rosé was wonderful, fruity, and dry (we liked it so much we we bought a bottle to go!) and the sliced meats were delicious. There were 6 different types served and each were unique and tasty! Our favorite part of the lunch was probably the spiced honey served with the cheese. We ended up fighting over who got the last bit of honey! We love this little place so much that we went back here again!
After lunch, we decided to take a bit of a break from running around and we relaxed at home. We think it is really important to take time to relax during vacation. When you visit such an exciting place like Paris it is easy to spend your whole time racing from place to place and its easy to get run down. We took this afternoon to read a bit, nap, and look at maps to plan the days ahead!
For dinner, P-man was feeling a little under the weather so he decided to take advantage of the enormous tub at our house and read. We decided to venture into the Saint Germain des Prés. We were in the mood for something off the beaten path and found just that at Au Pied de Fouet. Au Pied de Fouet is located two blocks north of Boulevard Saint Germain, where the wonderful yet touristy Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots are located. Au Pied de Fouet is a tiny restaurant which serves up classic country style French cooking. Ivy had fish in a basil cream sauce while Eve had the classic duck confit. We washed down our wonderful meal with a carafe of the house white wine which was really yummy, light, minerally, and dry. We had a chocolate cake with creme anglaise and the chestnut mouse for dessert. Both were so tasty that we forgot to photograph them! Both dishes were delicious and the atmosphere made the meal even more enjoyable! We both can't wait to come back here with our parents who would have loved this tiny gem.
Versailles Palace & Gardens
The next day, we rose bright and early and headed to Versailles! We had never been to Versailles because we thought it would be a long trip and hard to get to. Wow were we wrong! From Paris, the easiest way to get to Versialles is by the RER C train. We took the Metro from our house and transferred to the RER C at Saint Michel- Notre Dame Metro stop. Then you board the next RER C train to Versailles Rive Gauche. The train took about 30 minutes and then the walk to the palace was another 5-10 minutes.
Already at 9am the palace had a long winding line to get inside the doors. Since P-man has an EU passport and is under 26 years old, he could get into the palace for FREE! We still had to buy tickets so we had P-man stand in line while we went inside to buy tickets. Inside there was a long line for tickets. DO NOT stand in that line! On the far back of the building there is a small room with ticket machines, there was absolutely no lines. Maybe in the afternoon it would get busy but for some odd reason no one was in line at the machines. We bought "Passport" tickets for 25 euros which gained us access to the palace, the grounds, and Marie-Antoinette Estate. P-man being from England only needed his passport to get into the palace, however he did have to pay for the grounds ticket which was around 7 euros.
The palace was very beautiful and extravagant. The detail from the stone floors to the tapestries was perfection. The only downside was all the people! It was almost impossible to stand in one room more then a minute without being pushed out by the people trying to get inside. We agreed that we would be willing to pay more to be able to enjoy it with less people. The experience was not like most museums, where people are quiet, view things respectfully and take turns viewing the art. It was more like the Mona Lisa, where you have to literally fight your way to the front. Many people were completely oblivious to the other visitors and many people walked right in front of us with their cameras above their heads trying to take a photo. Despite this, it was still a great experience and the palace was worth the wait and crowds. Maybe in the winter it is less busy?
Not surprisingly, the grounds were Ivy's favorite part. They were HUGE! There is over 800 hectors of land surrounding the palace, all of which was designed and planted perfectly. We expected it to be big - but not THAT big. We walked for 20 minutes and were not even halfway through. The grounds are made up of manicured lawns, parterres of flowers, fountains, sculptures, wooded areas, and ponds. The areas by the ponds are perfect for summer picnics. And most of the grounds are free to visitors (if you use the garden entrances which are separate from the palace).
After we strolled the grounds and visited a few of the Estates, we headed back to the train station. On our way back to the train station, we stopped at the Grand Écurie (Royal Stables) since Eve couldn't bear to not see the pretty horses.
Once we were back in Paris we headed to Angelina, famous for their thick and creamy hot chocolate and pretty pastries. Eve picked out a tasty éclair while Ivy picked some macarons to nibble on. We then strolled around the local shops before heading home for a little rest. We sat in the garden having lattes and our sweet treats.
They sell their hot chocolate in powder and liquid form so you can bring it home.
Eve having a hard time choosing!
Ivy in our garden enjoying the pastries.
Ivy's Earl grey, chocolate, pistachio, and espresso macarons and Eve's caramel éclair!
Once our legs recovered some from all the walking, we headed out for a evening drink at Les Deux Magots. This café is world famous and one of the oldest in Paris! It also has had numerous famed visitors over the years such as Ernest Hemingway, Elsa Triolet, Luis Aragon, and many others over the years. We each had a glass of rosé and it was accompanied by some olives and an assorted snack mix. We were delighted by the view of the Église Saint-Germain des Prés (one of the oldest churches in Paris) and by the Parisian man and his old dog enjoying an evening brew beside us.
After drinks we walked over to Le Marais for dinner. We picked to go to Restaurant L'Alivi because this was the restaurant we had stumbled upon with our Mom and Dad two years ago during Christmas. The restaurant is in a charming old building which looks like the rest of the neighborhood was built up around. We LOVE this place for its atmosphere and its food! Eve started with a lovely Corsican eggplant salad (hidden under a pretty sheet of pastry) and P-man had stuffed sardines and salad. Ivy ordered some steak she had been craving and it was seasoned and cooked perfectly. Eve had a pasta dish with slow roasted veal for the main course and P-man pork and grilled eggplant. For desert we ordered the Corsican cheesecake served with a shot of limoncello, the chocolate lava cake, and the strawberry tart with cream. Everything was delicious and exactly as we remembered.
After dinner, we strolled along the Seine enjoying the Paris evening and headed home for a good nights rest.
xxx Ivy & Eve